8.28.2009

ABA Affordably on Demand: Rethink Autism

If you're at all familiar with ABA Therapy (Applied Behavioral Analysis), you know that you can use its anchor techniques of carefully planned positive feedback and reward/reinforcer systems to influence almost anyone's behavior. And that's what I wrote about at BlogHer this week (I hope people decide to use their newfound behavioral powers for non-nefarious purposes):
BlogHer: Using Behavioral Approaches in Autism (And on Anyone)
I also wrote about ABA therapy in general, why it can be so useful for helping children with autism learn, and -- most importantly -- a new way for autism families who want but normally wouldn't have access to an ABA program to bring it to their child: an comprehensive online program called Rethink Autism. As I said on BlogHer:
Rethink Autism creates a customized ABA curriculum for your child, provides hundreds of concise but thorough video-based lessons supplemented by printed lesson plans to teach you how to teach your child, allows automated scheduling so that you can coordinate with with your ABA team as to who's teaching your child what and when, and produces really straightforward data tracking and analysis. They even provide email curriculum support. This is a valuable and very well done resource, and I recommend it.
But here is something that I didn't mention on BlogHer, and which I think new, overwhelmed autism families need to understand: You can use Rethink Autism's many, many videos to learn how to interact with your child. If the integrated data tracking and scheduling is too overwhelming, then put it off until you're ready.

Instead, browse the topics -- which include motor skills and social skills as well as academics -- watch the videos and print the lesson plans, and start practicing those techniques with your child. Learning to communicate and motivate children with autism aren't skills that come naturally to many parents, and how-to manuals can only describe, not model. Video demonstrations, however -- those show exactly what to do. And if you need clarification, Rethink Autism provides email support. Once you're comfortable using the techniques, start incorporating the data tracking elements.

I've included some screenshots of the Rethink Autism interface below, so that you can see for yourself how well organized and planned the program is. I found it easy to use and the interface beautifully and gracefully designed. Click on the screenshots to enlarge them:



Individual lesson plan interface




Tracking data and team comments within a lesson plan



Video lesson interface: choosing steps



Video Lesson demonstration, including physical prompt

Regarding cost, as I wrote on BlogHer:
Rethink autism is also affordable. In fact the monthly Personal (as opposed to Organziational) subscription rate is less than one hour's time with a veteran behavioral therapist. While this is an incredible value, if it's still outside your family's budget, there are organizations like ACT Today! that help autism families fund their children's needs.
Rethink Autism provides excellent resources beyond its paid ABA therapy programming. It also provides free-of-charge resources for new autism families in its What Is Autism section, including a thoughtful Coping/Living With Autism area that reminds parents to appreciate and accept their child, themselves, and to act instead of reacting. There is also a Community section, in which Rethink Autism participants can ask questions of the staff and each other about issues and concerns.

Rethink Autism is a resource that the ABA therapy-using section of the autism community has needed for a long time: comprehensive, easy to use, and accessible by any individual with a computer, internet connection, and browser. I am grateful to the good folks at Rethink Autism for creating these tools, and I encourage those of you who reach out to or mentor families with new autism diagnoses to spread the word.

Disclosure: Rethink Autism granted me a few days of trial access, but I was otherwise not compensated in any way. What I have written above is my honest opinion, as it always has been and will continue to be in any reviews that I post in this space.

2 comments:

  1. I was introduced to your blog through a link provided by Rethink Autism. Great explanation of how ABA can help so many kids and why this new resource is such a huge breakthrough for so many parents, teachers, and administrators.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Perhaps it's possible for them to get funding to provide the content free. If the videos and lesson plans are so clear and good, we should work to make them available for everyone since once the content is created the costs of web hosting aren't very high.

    ReplyDelete

Respectful disagreement encouraged.

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